Police and crime commissioner elections 'failed voters'

Ballots being counted in Avon and Somerset The Electoral Reform Society described the elections as "chaotic"

The elections for police and crime commissioners "failed both candidates and voters alike", a report by the Electoral Reform Society has said.

The polls took place in 41 police force areas in England and Wales, and had a turnout of just 15%, a peacetime low.

The Electoral Reform Society said a poll it commissioned showed almost 90% of people still do not know who their elected representative is.

The Home Office said it would look at the points made in the report.

PCCs replaced police authorities in England and Wales - except in London - in what the Home Office described as "the biggest democratic reform in policing in our lifetimes".

The commissioners will be in post until 2016 and will have the power to set policing priorities, budgets and also to hire and fire chief constables.

'Left in the dark'

In its report, the Electoral Reform Society, an independent campaign group, described November's elections as "chaotic".

It said turnout was affected because they were held in winter, and voters were not given enough information.

A Populus poll commissioned by the society, and carried out last month, showed just 11% of the 1,624 respondents knew who their elected PCC was, it said.

The society has recommended that:

  • Another major election should never be held in winter months, as it discourages people from turning out
  • Voters should not be "left in the dark" about who or what they are voting for
  • There should be a level playing field for candidates through well-designed election rules

Katie Ghose, chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society said: "This was a flagship policy designed to reconnect the public and the police. Yet, after spending £75m, nearly 90% of Britons have no idea who their elected police and crime commissioner even is.

"November's bungled poll failed both candidates and voters. Government mismanagement has handed our elected commissioners a poisoned chalice, and it remains unclear how they can overcome it.

"The Electoral Commission's forthcoming review must not pull its punches. The government has singularly failed to accept any responsibility and would like to see nothing more than a whitewash."

'Bigger mandate'

Last week, the Home Office was criticised for not having "sufficient resources or the level of expertise" required to run effective elections.

The Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) - a body for electoral staff, which has more than 1,700 members - also criticised the timing of the PCC elections, saying it was "not in the interests of voters".

The Home Office gave an identical response to the latest criticisms.

"More than five million people turned out to vote for the first ever election of police and crime commissioners, giving them an infinitely bigger mandate than the unelected and invisible police authorities they replaced," a spokeswoman said.

"That number will only grow in the future as people see the real impact PCCs are already making in their areas, delivering on public priorities in tackling crime.

"The Home Office will look at the points made in this report, along with the conclusions of the Electoral Commission's upcoming assessment."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    our police are the best in the world ( bar a few rare exeptions ) . but it will be the same as it ever was " lions led by donkeys "

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    I have no idea who my PCC is. I did not vote because there was no opportunity to vote against this change. Since the vote, I have never heard it mentioned either locally or nationally. 75 milion pounds wasted that could have been spent so much better on more urgent matter such as more police on the street. I can't remember the last time i saw one walking around.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Why are we getting elections that few people want? It seems to me that this whole issue around elected officials is more about creating contests for political parties to contest than about sound governance. The Mayor experiment has failed. If we MUST have other elected posts then insist that only independents can stand I am fed up with political parties imposing their will on the rest of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.


    Just one example of the complete and utter incompetence of this shower of a government.

    All they can do is waste the taxpayer’s money

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Britain is desperately short of cash. We were promised a 'Bonfire of the Quangos' in order to save money and hopefully improve efficiency (it never happened). So why this extra 'Quango'?
    Answer:- To provide more top jobs for the chums (both left and right look after their own) and to give government control of the police in preparation for the mass civil unrest that is about to engulf us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    No-one cares about Police Commissioners.

    Another stupid Liberal idea to have elections for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    They've sold our police service off to the lowest bidder. PC's starting pay means they take home less than what a single parent gets tax free off the state while commissioners have to pay retired senior officers as advisers because they haven't a clue

    Summer riots & G8 policing security demands? Ms May et Al have ensured we're standing in the toilet pan with many hands reaching for the chain

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    I only bothered to vote to make sure I cast my vote against John Prescott, that was the case for everyone else I know who voted. In the Humberside region voting seemed to be along two lines, hard core party activists who voted for their respective candidate, and a small motivated body of unaligned individuals who voted according to one or other prejudice, such as mine against the noble lord.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    It cost a lot, will solve or improve nothing & most didn't want it. Ah well, It's easy for politicians to waste someone else's money on their particular pet project as usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Did I miss an election?

    Apparently so. Well, now I know why the UK's lost its AAA rating. This government are squandering any possible savings from the austerity measures on keeping "the lads" in a cushy job.

    Makes me angry. I'd say we need an election now, but what would be the point? Who would we vote for? They're all the same!

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    a tory pcc will ask the chief constable to go in hard on anti government demos while a labour or other will ask for a softer approach .we should keep politics out of policing but £5000 is a lot of money to find if a true independent wants to stand . big brother is watching us perhaps .

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    This was a change that few wanted and at an expense that was completely unjustified.Change for change's sake;but what can you tell these polititions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Jobs for the boys. If you looked at the candidates, most were "former chairman of...", "deputy leader of.....", "president of...." etc. Very few were not politically funded stooges looking for a nice little earner plus generous perks.

    Just another example of 'The Political Club' looking after it's own.

    And then next week they will start closing libraries because of lack of funds.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Too many people who knew what was going on didn't turn up, unfortunately this was seen as apathy rather than as a protest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    one of the worst aspects of this shambles was the requirement that candidates had to fork out £5,000 in order to stand. One might conclude that the government didn't really want anyone to stand other than members of the main parties. Surely not?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    Laugh out Loud

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    The government love this Big society theme they invented but people dont want it, 99 percent of the population want to go home after work eat their dinner and rest in front of the tv or do something for themselves, they are not interested in sitting on committees or helping the community.
    Would my life would be changed for the better by voting? Hell no.
    Democracy? where is my vote for hanging?

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    It's utterly wrong for any aspect of policing to be politicised.

    Police are there to enforce the law without fear or favour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Nobody voted because people want the police to be run by the police, not by a sleazy self serving politician. In my local election only the independent candidate had any experience of working with the police, the rest were all party nobodies. The whole thing was a farce based on the Tories imaginary vision of Little England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    The commissioners were supposed to be independant of a political party. Butb because Cameron and his cronies are all millionaires, they are under the impression that everyone has access to a quick £5000 deposit. For most people this is a third of their annual salary. That shows that Cameron is so out of touch with Joe Public. Roll on the Revolution..


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